Guest Blog from Sparkling Winemaker, Dave Hickey: Blending

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One of the highlights of my year is when I prepare the final blends for sparkling bottling. I’m often asked what I’m searching for as I taste the wines and decide which blend they will go into. On an average year, I am tasting between 4 lots of Chardonnay, 4 Pinot Noir lots and 3 different lots of Pinot Blanc comprised of  clones 4 , 76, 5, 6, 459 and Martini 13. Here’s just a few of the things I’m looking for. Chardonnay – the very lightest and most elegant lots will go into the Cuvée M and the Brut de Blancs. Pinot Noir – the lighter, more bright fruit lots will go to the Cuvée M and also the Brut Coquard. The richer, yet restrained wines will go to the Brut de Noirs and the most expressive lots go to the XD. Pinot Blanc – the ones with the most potential to age and blossom after years in the bottle go to the Brut de Blancs.


For the Brut Rosé blend, I am looking for a richer Chardonnay, yet still bright in expression of fruit. The still Pinot Noir component of the Rosé is found by my tasting through the red barrels for a bright, red fruit, strawberry and blackberry accented Pinot with lower tannin and nice mouthfeel. Lastly, our Brut Cuvée is a blend of our three grapes used for sparkling; Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. For this blend, I am looking for the wines that will compliment the house-style blend for which the Brut is known and for those that will complement the wines in reserve we’ve held back(the mother blend). For anyone curious on my notes below, the acid levels on the far right are ranked from high, mouth-dissolving acid at 12 o’clock to flat, low acids at 6 o’clock. It is a good indicator of where the wines are at now, so that I may anticipate how they will age for years to come.

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